A James Bond novel is to be written by a woman for the first time after the Ian Fleming estate authorised an “expansion” of the spy’s fictional universe.
Kim Sherwood would produce a trilogy of “audacious, pacy, sexy and irresistibly entertaining” stories which are “respectful of Fleming’s original genius and yet refreshingly modern”, the publisher said.
The books are not continuation novels in the vein of those previously written by Sebastian Faulks, Anthony Horowitz or Jeffery Deaver.
They do not focus on Bond but instead feature a diverse cast of new-generation 00 agents. In the first book, Bond is missing – presumed captured or killed – and the younger agents are tasked with finding out what happened to him.
The publisher, HarperCollins, declined to say whether Bond would appear in the books at all.
Sherwood is the author of one novel, Testament, and is a lecturer in creative writing at Edinburgh University.
She said: “James Bond has remained an evergreen symbol for Britain because he changes with us. It’s incredible to have the opportunity to bring the books into the 21st century and create new heroes for our time.
“My Double O agents are a diverse ensemble tasked with fighting today’s global threats, identifying a mole in MI6 – and the small matter of finding James Bond, who is missing in action.”
The 32-year-old said Bond had been “one of the enduring loves” of her life since she first watched Pierce Brosnan in the 1995 film GoldenEye.
“As a teenager, I chose Fleming when my English teacher asked us to write about an author we admired – I still have the school report. Since then, I’ve dreamt of writing James Bond.
“It’s rare that dreams come true, and I am grateful to the Fleming family for this incredible opportunity. I feel honoured to be the first novelist to expand the Bond universe through the Double O sector, bringing life to old favourites, and fresh characters to the canon,” she said.
Accusations of misogyny have long surrounded Bond, and having the stories told by a female writer is a significant change.
Jonny Geller, the agent who negotiated the deal on behalf of Ian Fleming Publications, said: “It is amazing to think a woman writer has not – until this point – entered the heart of James Bond’s world to tell a story of the 00s around him.”
A spin-off trilogy about M’s secretary, The Moneypenny Diaries by Kate Westbrook, was published in the 2000s.
Sherwood has a personal link to the Bond films. Her grandfather was George Baker, the actor, who played Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Captain Benson in The Spy Who Loved Me.